MONDAY – NYC

D A Y • F I V E

This day started off a little differently than the others of our trip. One of my sisters went to explore the city on her own, so my youngest sister, my parents, and myself took a ferry ride… to Staten Island.

How beautiful does New York City look from a ferry boat? It almost looks small. I know it isn’t small; there are hundreds of thousands of people walking on the streets in between those buildings and on each floor of each skyscraper. As we pulled away from the New York Harbor, I realized that as much as I loved walking along Madison or Fifth, seeing the city from a view on the water was its own form of beautiful.

On our way to schedule a ferry ride to see the island, we were almost scammed. We got off the train and were met by someone who was dressed like a tour guide. After taking us on a 5+ block walk, the young man started saying that we had to go to an ATM because they didn’t have card readers. We went to the ATM, but didn’t give him the money yet. We asked to see the accommodations first. So he took us to a very uncomfortable looking bus, at which point I had a weird gut feeling, and my family and I turned around almost immediately. We noticed the brochure looked dated, possibly hinting that it was stolen from another company and trying to be passed as marketing for this scam. And when we asked if  the boat pictured was the boat we were going to be on in the water, they couldn’t give us a straight answer. We soon realized that the Staten Island Ferry was free of charge, and boarded the next one to arrive in New York Harbor.

While we were on our way to Staten Island, my younger sister and I had a mini photoshoot – as one does when they’re on the ferry with the wind in their hair. My younger sister has truly grown so much over the past several years, and I am proud of the young woman she is becoming. Year after year, I’ve realized that I have more pictures of her than anyone else, and that is because I’ve truly watched her grow. I remember the day she was born, and I remember when I convinced her that “lefties were cool”, and I remember when she cut her hair to get bangs like me – and hid under the kitchen table when she realized what she had done. I remember when one day, she was all of a sudden a really great reader, and I remember when she found her voice and made her first joke.

I would have loved to see Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty, but we had to prioritize. We had plans for the afternoon and evening, and we were so hungry on the ferry ride. As soon as we arrived to Staten Island, we walked up a long flight of stairs and entered the first restaurant we could find. It was a small diner on the edge of town, with a lot of character. None of us argued, we all just sat down and ordered a sub-par burger on the outskirts of town. THAT hungry.

On our way back, we started to talk about our plans for the rest of the day. The plans involved another “island” – but nothing like Staten Island. This “island” features amusement parks, and is part of the Brooklyn borough – Coney Island. Coney Island, despite its name, is actually a peninsula to the west of Long Island. It was originally an island separated from Brooklyn by Coney Island Creek, but in the 1920s-1930s, a large section of the creek was filled as a part of a land and highway development.

As soon as we got off the train from Staten to Coney, we immediately rode the Cyclone rollercoaster. Well my dad, my sister, and I did. I almost lost my sunglasses when we flew dow one of the hills, but it was a blast.

After the rollercoaster, we made it to the boardwalk. My sister made me take a couple dozen photos of her, and then we just explored. Though we didn’t ride any of the rides in Luna Park, we enjoyed being near the water, and seeing everything that Coney Island had to offer.

Have you ever heard of of Nathan’s Hot Dogs? I’m sure you have. They’re everywhere. Well, they started on Coney Island as a hot dog stand over 100 years ago. So it would only make sense for us to visit the original location, new and improved storefront.

Like the tagline on the storefront says, “The flavor of New York since 1916.” It was definitely a great treat, followed with sorbet from Coney’s Cones. I typically am just a ‘ketchup and sometimes mustard on my hot dog’ kind of girl, but my dad will try anything and definitely enjoyed a few original Nathan’s with a Coney Island brew.

After our afternoon and evening exploring Coney, we got back on the Subway towards our final stop of the day. Unfortunately, we were on the longest trip possible due to delays. It took over an hour. Though it was our only delay within this trip to NYC, I understand why New Yorkers complain about them.

We ended the night with a very sweet treat, at Serendipity 3. A very unique and narrow entryway, the restaurant has been there since 1954, and is well known for its extravagant desserts – my favorite meal.

This was my last night in New York City, and it ended a sweet one.

XO – MC

SUNDAY – NYC

D A Y • F O U R

So funny story. I left my AirPods charging next to my bed. Completely forgot them before I left for the airport. I had my old iPhone headphones with me, but they’re the ones that don’t really fit to your ears, so listening to music and podcasts as I walked around NYC and rode the Subway was a little uncomfortable. Anyways, the girl who was watching Marley for me went to pick them up and shipped them to me. Unfortunately, the hotel my family was staying at was under some construction and the postal worker didn’t deliver my AirPods to the hotel, but the main postal office a few blocks down from our Chelsea hotel.

On my way to the post office, I walked past a really cool wall of murals by different artists. They all shared a similar “hashtag”, #brickfit. There were some really cool pieces, and I enjoyed getting to see the artwork.

I made my way to the post office which was also connected to Penn Station. It was not what I expected inside. The lobby was a long aisle of teller windows and surprisingly it was not very busy. After meeting with a few of the tellers, we finally found my package and I made my way into Penn Station.

There was a really cool event going on at Madison Square Garden but I didn’t catch any great pictures. The newest class of New York Police Department rookies were graduating from the Academy. The security was insane – which I understand considering the way our service men and women are disrespected in current events.

My sisters and I spent almost the entire day shopping. First, my sisters said that they would meet me at Glossier. I mapped out the subway I needed to take to SoHo and headed that way. What my sisters forgot to tell me, is that in addition to the insane late summer heat, there would be a line wrapped around the Glossier building that would take at least 45 minutes to get through. And even better, my sisters weren’t there yet. So for about 25 minutes, I waited in line, by myself. It’s a really good thing that I picked up my AirPods today and that they were fully charged.

After being in line for almost an hour, we finally made it upstairs. I stood in front of the fan for almost the entire time. I did buy some balmdotcom though. We then headed to some of the more affordable stores and boutiques, while also making some stops at some of the less affordable ones.

After we shopped, we headed towards St. Peter’s Catholic Church for Sunday Mass. Our sister and mom met up with us, and funny enough, the air conditioning was out. So it was hot inside too.

Our next stop really moved me. The last time I was in New York City, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum was not complete. This time, I actually had the chance to see it. When we stepped into the memorial area, the mood was solemn and it was very quiet. It was so peaceful. And I immediately felt that I needed to step away from my family and walk the memorial alone.

My memory of September 11th, 2001 is different than most. I was alive, but I remember September 11th, 2002 much clearer. In 2001, I was in the 3rd grade and my private, Catholic, K-8th school didn’t tell us what happened. And neither did my parents. The next year, I switched schools, to another private, Catholic school. But this school gathered all of the students outside and though it’s a vague memory, I remember standing outside with my classmates, many people were in tears, and we had a brief ceremony surrounding the flag. I didn’t understand why we were gathered. As the years go on, that is really the only memory that stands with me through that day.

Everyone visiting the memorial maintained quiet in respect for those who passed on that sad day, almost 17 years ago. Walking around the memorial was filled with sadness, but also a sense of community. To think back on that day, and all of the service men and women that came together selflessly to rescue as many people as they could from the horror that day. I can’t believe it’s been almost 17 years – seeing all of those names made it a little more realistic for me.

A few of the names affected me, but it was actually the words that followed their name that brought me to tears – “and her unborn child”. Until seeing these words at the memorial, I am saddened to say that I never thought about the expecting mothers who may have passed when the World Trade Center was attached by terrorists. I couldn’t imagine that great of a loss.

Something I did notice were a few lone, white flowers laid into the letters of a few names. I heard that the white rose in a name meant that day was their birthday. There is someone employed every day to take white roses to each name on their birthday. That restores a little bit of my faith in humanity, and the City of New York. We even saw the only building that stayed standing throughout the attacks, which was pretty incredible.

After the memorial, my mom, sisters, and I all went to see the Brooklyn Bridge. We made it about a quarter of the way into it… but to be honest, we were all getting hungry and thirsty. So we turned around.

At the end of the evening, we had a very late (almost 10:00 p.m.) dinner at a really cool restaurant down the street from my sister’s dorm. It was peaceful, candlelit, and ended with sorbet.

XO – MC

THURSDAY PT 1 – NYC

New York City is a magical place. It has many names, from the “Big Apple” to the “Melting Pot,” but my favorite one is “The City that Never Sleeps.” NYC is a place where people have worked hard at 3 jobs, while they pursue their dream; where people have tasted new food; where people have grown an appreciation for art; where people have started successful careers; where people have fallen in love. Nothing ever stops moving. It doesn’t matter if someone is there as a visitor or a resident, the city never sleeps.

My sister was offered an internship in New York City for the summer. Her time off from her internship (and the job she also had) was limited, so what better excuse to take a family vacation to NYC? I had been to New York City once before, in 2011, following my senior year of high school. Because our trip also included New Jersey and Canada, our time in “The City that Never Sleeps” was limited to just a few days, but it was still memorable. This trip was more – it was incredible. I’m not sure if that is because I am now old enough to appreciate more of the beauty of NYC, or if it was because I saw more of NYC than I thought was possible in one week.

My family drove in from North Carolina, where they were living at the time, while I flew in from Northwest Arkansas. We settled into our Chelsea hotel pretty late, but were ready to begin our week early the next day.

D A Y  •  O N E

But first, coffee. To any of my closest friends, they know that I am a dedicated Starbucks drinker. And while there are Starbucks locations at almost every other corner of Manhattan, we settled on a place near our hotel, Luna Coffee Shop, to grab our caffeine  fix and breakfast.

My sisters did their research. They planned an efficient way for us to see the most out of New York City and its beauty, all within the week that we had. We started at the Empire State Building. We had been here on our first trip, so we didn’t spend much time there – we had the rest of New York to see. But it was a lot of fun standing where Will Ferrel had stood as his character, Buddy the Elf, once again. Our next stop was the New York Public Library. If I would have been in NYC for college at any point, I would have loved to spend time studying at this library. The detail in the entry, the ceilings, the architecture, and the beauty of the books – it was so peaceful. One of my favorite spots in the library was a little corner that said, “What are you reading now?” Sharing favorite books with each other via a sticky note – how unique and old fashioned. Perfect for New York’s Public Library.

A Midtown Manhattan landmark was the next stop on our itinerary – Grand Central Terminal. In the 1800s, railroads were not only a response to NYC’s growth, but also a catalyst to its growth. Standing in the middle of Grand Central, I couldn’t even imagine how much New York City had grown since that time. There were hundreds of people in that terminal – and a few moments later, there were hundreds more. The constant movement, people passing by other people without a word between strangers, was very unique to watch.

Our next stop was a place very close to our hearts – St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Growing up Catholic, there are so many religious traditions that I have carried with me into my adulthood. One of the most memorable Catholic moments that I’ve had goes back several years, when I took some time off school, and was working for a hotel back home. Cardinal Dolan, a St. Louis native, came back to town to celebrate his brother’s birthday with his extended family at the hotel where I worked. By the end of the weekend, I received a thank you letter from Cardinal Dolan, which means a lot to me being in the hospitality field. Fast forward to this trip, and getting to visit his parish – St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It was a cool little “Catholic-nerd” moment.

Oh if only you could have been there…

to be continued

XO – MC